By Rosana Garcia
Connecticut legislators passed an “omnibus” health care bill that includes pro-consumer, accountability and health systems planning measures. On May 28, the Senate passed the bill—SB 811—(30-5), which the House passed with amendments on May 30 (98-43). The Senate passed the amended bill unanimously yesterday.
The evolution of this legislation was exciting to watch over the session—especially, watching the “Yes” votes appear on the board for ALL the state Senators.
Despite its misleading name “An Act Concerning Parity in Hospital Sales Oversight,” the bill actually does much more than make changes in the Certificate of Need process for purchasing a hospital in Connecticut. It addresses many issues plaguing the state’s health care system.
The bill is long—55 pages—but here are some highlights for you.
Pro-consumer, accountability and transparency are overarching themes, including:
- Web-based access to health care pricing and quality information for consumers
- Protections for patients from “surprise billing” and “facility fees”
- Creation of a statewide health information exchange
Another major theme is planning for the state’s health needs now and in the future—in this area the bill includes:
- Direction to the Health Care Cabinet to study cost containment models from other states and make recommendations for how the state can move forward
- Creation of clear parameters for conversion and consolidation of hospitals and health networks, including the new requirement for a cost and market impact analysis of the sale or transfer
- Development of funding mechanims to support community-based hospitals (creating alternatives other than acquisition by a larger hospital or for-profit entity)
The passage of this bill is promising for Connecticut—we are, yet again, pulling out ahead in health reform.
It was no longer possible to ignore the seismic shifts our health care landscape has undergone. And it was impossible to ignore the negative impact these changes have had on patients and our wallets.
Legislators have stepped up and worked together across party lines. It will benefit us all.
CT Mirror’s Arielle Leven Becker has a useful cheat sheet on major provisions of the bill